A recent article in a UK newspaper highlighted that there had been over 75,000 crimes committed against designated UK Heritage sites during the last year.
The English Heritage Council said criminals targeted World Heritage Sites, listed buildings, churches, parks and gardens, battlefields, conservation areas and shipwreck sites.
The damage suffered included metal theft, vandalism, graffiti and arson, with one in eight important sites being attacked.
This frightening revelation illustrates just how vulnerable our heritage assets are. When these threats are multiplied across the heritage of the wider world, the challenges facing the conservation and preservation of our global heritage becomes considerable.
A small number of sites are on the UNESCO WH Sites in Danger list and this focuses international attention and expertise on these locations. However the ongoing pressure of growing populations, unsustainable tourism, and in many cases less than ideal site management, mean that many other sites are suffering ongoing damage. Some are even at risk of even losing their claim of “Outstanding Universal Value”- their very reason for UNESCO listing.
This is a problem for society in general to face up to, but what can we do as individuals about this situation in the short term?
Well as photographers, we have a unique and positive opportunity. We have the means to capture and show great images of these places to as many people as possible in the hope that the more people who are aware of these important places, the more people will care about them. We have the skills to tell and even “sell” the stories of these important places to the public.
Some individuals will never appreciate and respect cultural and aesthetic values, but the more the general population develops an emotional bond with heritage locations, the more isolated will be the few who set out to damage them.
Photography, with its unique ability to communicate across cultural and language barriers is the ideal vehicle to build a sense of community protection and “ownership” around a local [or foreign] heritage site.
Join us at OP in building this matrix of global awareness. Use your skills to communicate the heritage message, and if you have photographs of World Heritage sites, share them with others and help build a caring community by up loading them to our sister site www.ourplacephotos.org
Photos can not only record a place –they can celebrate it.
As always, we appreciate your feedback and comments.
OUR PLACE - Photography for preservation and protection